Why Do Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?

Why Do Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists? (Top 7 Reasons)

The medical field is not without its drama. As medical professionals, we get asked questions like “Why Do Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?”. I carried out adequate research on this topic, and the findings are mind-blowing. First, I will provide details about the difference between orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists.  And who among the two medical practitioners should one choose? Find out below.

Why Do Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?

Who is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedics is the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

An orthopedic surgeon is a Doctor of Medicine (MD) who has completed four years of medical school after graduating from college.

Following this education, at least five years of Orthopedic surgical residency in an academic hospital program, as well as one or more fellowship years, are required.

Board certification requires meeting strict standards and passing an examination set by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Subspecialty certification is also available. Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Hand Surgery may be areas of specialization.

General orthopedic surgeons are qualified to work in any of the specialized areas listed above. Still, their overall focus is on the musculoskeletal system and the impact an injury or condition may have.

This is significant because many of today’s chronic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis, are manifestations of systemic disease and can have a devastating impact on the musculoskeletal system – even if they begin in a specific limb. Other problems are unavoidable if the broader damage is not recognized and only the injury or condition presenting a specific limb is treated.

Orthopedic surgeons are members of prestigious professional orthopedic organizations such as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Other organizations in which they may be members include the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA), and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH).

Who is a Podiatrist?

Podiatrists treat the bones, soft tissues, and joints of the foot and ankle, as well as skin diseases and aberrant lower extremity mechanics.

A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) and is also referred to as a podiatric physician or surgeon. They are qualified to diagnose and treat certain conditions of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.

Podiatrists complete four years of training in a podiatric school and variable amounts of hospital residency training.
 Podiatrists may be eligible for board certification after advanced training, clinical experience and testing.

The certifying bodies for a podiatrist are the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and the American Board of Podiatric Surgery.

These governing bodies are not certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which is the umbrella organization for certifying medical specialty boards such as Surgery, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, or Psychiatry and Neurology.

While many podiatrists are well-trained and knowledgeable, the treatment of these problems is frequently better suited to a Doctor of Medicine, specifically an Orthopedic surgeon certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) with a special interest in the foot and ankle, as evidenced by membership in the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS).

Difference Between Orthopedic Surgeons and Podiatrists

Orthopedic surgeon vs. Podiatrists

  1. An orthopedic surgeon is a Doctor of Medicine who has completed Medical School. A podiatrist does not graduate from Medical School but rather from podiatry school and is not a Doctor of Medicine.
  2. An Orthopaedic surgeon has a global understanding of a patient’s musculoskeletal health, while a podiatrist addresses primarily localized foot and ankle problems.
  3. While some people believe that a podiatrist is best qualified to treat foot injuries and conditions because it is their sole focus, they may overlook the importance of the patient’s overall health as well as the role that the broader musculoskeletal system plays in most foot and ankle problems.
  4. While a podiatrist can effectively “manage” certain localized foot conditions such as callosities, nail diseases, and diabetic foot ulcerations, an orthopedist is trained to identify and correct (both nonsurgically and surgically when indicated) hard-to-detect load pressure points, deformities, and stress and fragility fractures in the lower extremity before it becomes a crisis management and limb salvage situation. The ability to recognize musculoskeletal problems early and “proactively” address them can make a significant difference in not only quality of life but also life extension.

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Why Do Orthopedic Surgeons Hate Podiatrists?

Orthopedist-podiatrist relationships are difficult today. Here are a few reasons why orthopedic surgeons hate podiatrists.

Reasons why orthopedic surgeons hate podiatrists

  1. Podiatrists attend less rigorous schools and complete three years of residency, whereas orthopedic surgeons must complete six. Despite having less training than orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists operate on ankle and calcaneal fractures.
  2. Orthopedic surgeons hate podiatrists because of money.
  3. Some Orthopedic surgeons don’t like podiatrists simply because they have different cliques and are different.
  4. A lot of Orthopedic surgeons have had to clean up the podiatrist’s messes. Hence the dislike some exhibit towards podiatrists.
  5. Orthopedic surgeons hate podiatrists because of differences in their education levels. Orthopedic surgeons graduate from medical school, whereas podiatrists do not graduate from medical school. Orthopedic surgeons are more skillful in medicine and surgery.
  6. Anger between podiatrists and orthopedic doctors stems from conflicts about who should conduct foot surgery. Orthopedic doctors want to ban podiatrists from doing foot and ankle surgery, while podiatrists want to continue practicing their specialty (foot and ankle).
  7. Podiatrists have a negative reputation among orthopedic surgeons because they are often poorly versed in areas of medicine outside of podiatry.

Choosing between orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists

Foot and ankle care is a specialty of both orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists. If you have a foot or ankle problem, you may be wondering who you should see for treatment.

Orthopedics is the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries and diseases.

Common conditions treated by foot and ankle orthopedic specialists

  • Achilles tendinitis and tendinosis
  • Broken bones, stress fractures and sprains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ligament tears
  • Lisfranc injury (midfoot injury to ligaments and bones)
  • Metatarsalgia foot pain (ball of your foot)
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Plantar fibroma and fibromatosis (benign nodules on the bottom of your foot)

Podiatrists provide care for bones, soft tissues and joints of the foot and ankle, but also the skin conditions and abnormal mechanics of the lower extremity.

Common conditions treated by podiatrists:

  • Arthritis, instability, pain, joint diseases
  • Calluses and ingrown toenails
  • Chronic wounds associated with diabetes or other illnesses
  • Deformities of the feet (bunions, hammertoes)
  • Fallen arches
  • Heel pain, bone spurs, neuromas and plantar fasciitis

Podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons can treat foot and ankle conditions surgically or non-surgically. In general, choose the doctor with whom you are most comfortable or who has the most experience treating your specific condition.

While many podiatrists are well-trained and knowledgeable in these areas, treating these issues is frequently better suited to a Doctor of Medicine, specifically an Orthopedic surgeon certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) with a special interest in the foot and ankle, as evidenced by membership in the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS).

Is a podiatrist better than an orthopedic surgeon?

If you have an injury, ailment, or symptoms affecting your foot or ankle health, you should contact a podiatrist. It is best to consult an orthopedic physician if you have an accident, ailment, or symptoms affecting any other portion of your musculoskeletal system.

Additionally, if you have been advised to have foot or ankle surgery, consult a podiatrist. While some orthopedic specialists may be able to conduct such treatments, a podiatrist is a better expert in foot and ankle health than an orthopedic physician. When it comes to surgery, you should not trust an unskilled surgeon.

What does a podiatrist do on a first visit?

Firstly, the podiatrist will do a comprehensive examination of your lower legs, feet, and ankles. They will check for symptoms of inadequate circulation in the lower legs and feet. Also, they will find out if your skin or nail has conditions like
warts, fungal infections, discoloration, corns, bunions, or blisters.
What is the best doctor to see for foot pain?
Generally, if you are experiencing foot pain, then you should see a podiatrist. If you are feeling pain in every part of your body, like the back and neck, then an orthopedic doctor is the best option. If you can contact a doctor that specializes in both podiatry and orthopedics, then it’s even better.


Why do orthopedic surgeons hate podiatrists? You now know. Podiatrists have a bad reputation among orthopedic surgeons because, unlike a podiatrist, orthopedic surgeons who earned their medical degree in the United States will have a much deeper understanding of general medicine, surgical fundamentals, and post-operative care. This is due to the fact that they will have spent a total of seven years obtaining their medical education and training.

We hope you found this discussion helpful. Do well to share it with others. Thank you.


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